Step by step amateur Warmoth build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by braindead0, May 29, 2018.


  1. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    My wife is a full time artist and wanted to try painting guitars, I like building things. You can see the results from 2 cheapo kits here: The official "Show your basses" thread part 19!

    This bass has replaced my ESP LTD B-50 for a couple of weeks now. In our regular jam session last night the guitar player really liked the sound... so I think I've done an adequate build even with the bottom of the line components. Success with the cheapos justifies dropping $ over at Warmoth (makes sense right?.. of course!).

    A main 'design' goal was to maximize art space on the body and minimize the hardware. The G4 body provided a nice shape for the planned art. MM in the 'sweet spot' clears some space between there and the neck. All black hardware should make it easier to blend with the art.

    The general art idea will be some sort of cross between a Lovecraftian 'Deep One' and an angler fish with the eye-stalk/lure going up over the 'horn' (is that what it's called). That's all the input I get or want, she'll take that and run with it.

    My goal for this build thread is to detail the process at a level which makes it easy for a beginner to get rolling. I'll also make observations on the quality of Warmoth products in comparison to the cheap kits as that's fresh in my mind. A cost/benefit look and a little info about the trade offs so that others can make informed decisions.

    While I wait for Warmoth (4-5 weeks!!! sheeesh), thought I'd get the ball rolling. Bear in mind that this thread will probably languish during paint, can't rush art however I'll hopefully be able to provide pictures as it progresses.

    Thanks for bearing with my long winded post. I'll post some pics and details of the components chosen when they arrive.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  2. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    I thought I'd start off with some observations on the cheap guitar kits we used. I purchased LP guitar and J-bass kits from a internet seller with a US presence in Utah (just in case of problems). Grand total $295.

    Everything arrived in good order. I started by making a notched straight edge for each neck (straight aluminum ruler, small file to notch for frets..). Adjusted the truss rod so the fretboard is straight and.ugh.. Frets were all over the place, not so much that any needed to be pulled but I spent hours leveling and re-crowing the frets.

    Neck to body joints were surprisingly good. The only issue I had there was when I bolted the bass neck to the body. Pre-drilled holes in the neck were tight and when the screws threaded in it caused a bit of material to raise up. This ended up angling the neck just a tiny bit forward making it impossible to get the action height low enough. I removed the neck and cleaned up the raised material (used a counter sink to clear a tiny bit extra) re-set the neck and good to go. The bridge adjustment could still go another 1 or 1.5mm but the action is where I wanted it.

    The LP clone neck relief is IMO a tiny bit low, about .08" (specs I'm working off call for 0.010"-0.012"). I've left the truss rod snugged but not tight, figure eventually the string tension will pull in a bit more relief. It seems to play well enough, no buzzing that anyone has noticed.

    Tuning machines, adjustable bits (bridges, etc) are all usable if not the nicest... screws grind a bit.. tuning machines have terrible tolerances. Volume pots on J-bass seem to not right (linear instead of audio taper I think) the last 10% of the turn accounts for 80% or more of volume. They both sound good and play well enough.

    These kits were a good way to learn about building guitars/setup and gain some experience. Since I finished those without issue I've gone on to setup several other guitars we have around here and in each case I've made noticeable improvement.

    I think that these kits fit the purpose, an inexpensive way for a handy person to build a guitar. Considering the time it takes and the tools necessary this is by no means a way to save money.

    I'll get back to this when I have the Warmoth parts...
     
  3. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    I ordered some MG Super Shield nickle conductive coating to provide a shield for the controls. Didn't use anything on my 2 other builds, so far doesn't seem necessary however being an electronics geek I like the idea of shielding.

    I chose an EMG MMHZ passive 4 string MM pickup. I wanted something different than what I currently have in my stable (P/J and J). I'm all for keeping it simple so a passive pickup makes sense. The EMG pickup also comes with volume/tone control and wiring. NOTE: be wary of purchasing from anywhere except EMGpickups.com, IF you care about getting the wiring/pots/output jack included in the price. GuitarCenter, MusicianFriend and other sites I looked at say it comes with "Mounting screws and springs". I originally purchased from a seller on Amazon, thinking same price.. same part.. should have the wiring. Not so. Returned pickup to Amazon seller, and confirmed with Alex at EMGPickups that "We include the pots and wiring necessary to wire each pickup up with a dedicated tone and volume.".


    I'll be dumping the output jack that came with the pickup for a "pure tone full contact jack". I already have several on hand for swaps anyway.

    Warmoth order still in progress.. ;-)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  4. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    My first build was a Warmoth parts Jazz, I made my share of mistakes, but the parts were excellent, particularly the neck. I think you can go cheaper on bodies, particularly if painted, but at least you know you’ll get a tight neck pocket fit all Warmoth. How much of the Supershield did you get? Pricey stuff, but I’d like to try it on my current build for pickup routs and inaccessible wiring channels.
     
  5. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    I'm hoping I've made my mistakes on the cheapo's ;-). IMO main mistake was not assembling prior to 'sending to paint', some of the holes were not correct.. and fixing would have been easier prior to paint. I went with poplar for the body, it'll take paint nicely.

    I purchased a 12oz aerosol can. I"m not sure how you'd get a good coating on inaccessible channels/routes? If the wiring in those areas is shielded, and the shields are electrically connected to shielding in the main cavity.. I'd think that would be sufficient... however if you can get a good coating in those areas.. it's worth a try.
     
  6. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I was thinking of using the small bottle of MG and using a paintbrush, though from what I’ve read it’s barely enough to shield one bass. I’ll probably use the copper tape in my control cavity, as it’s way cheaper, but I will have no pickguard, so black paint in the pup cavities is a good thing. Good luck, post photos, love me a Warmoth Frankenparts build. It’s like a parts treasure hunt, kinda fun!
     
  7. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    I'll have pictures, comments.. fun for all! ;-)
     
  8. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Let the build pron begin!

    USPS brought me a package from EMG.. nice being just over the hill from them. Normally I wouldn't post a picture of standard parts, however I wanted to point out that this is what you get when ordering directly from EMG. Pickup, screws.. AND a passive wiring kit which retails for $49. Order the same thing from guitarcenter, musiciansfriend...Amazon seller and you'll likely to get just the pickup and screws for the same price.

    Point is...buyer beware.. EMG started including the kits, didn't change the price but didn't 'retrofit' product already at retailers so until that's gone make sure you're getting what you need/want.

    EMG_MMHZ.JPG
     
    Jisch and Gilmourisgod like this.
  9. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    4 weeks is up..... chomping at the bit here... Murphy's law dictates this will ship right about when I'm planning on camping, or when my wife is done painting the sound board for our washtub double-bass.. which means I'll have to re-assemble and get it setup... Oh the humanity!

    ... just got an update, should be shipping tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  10. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Big brown truck brought a present! I did an initial assembly, making sure everything fits..etc..

    I'll start with the neck. Warmoth, roasted maple with Indian rosewood fretboard. Azurite Malachite Dots inlay because I thought that would look good with the planned artwork. They included a note with the neck about being careful to drill screw holes large enough so as to not stress the roasted maple and risk cracking. For every screw hole I've drilled I first tested on a piece of hickory I had lying around. Goal was to make sure the screws had a good bit without excessive insertion effort (that sounds....off ;-)

    First step was to double check the scale length, per included instructions. 34" spot on.

    I then checked the frets for level. I already had a fretboard straightedge (straight aluminum ruler I notched for the frets). The board came absolutely level, no need to adjust the truss rod for this. To my eye/hand/leveling gauge the frets are absolutely level.

    I also checked the fit with the body, perfect. Rough check of full scale length and string alignment, all looking good.

    Next I installed the tuning machines. Again, spot on nice fit. No need to ream or adjust holes. After setting the tuning machines where I wanted them and snugging the nuts I drilled 1/16" pilot holes for the 'set' screws (not sure on proper term here).

    A tips that I'm sure isn't news to many but just in case, as this is aimed at beginners. You want to make sure to not drill through the neck.. that would suck. To avoid that I'll tape a 'flag' on the drill bit at the depth I'm looking for:
    screwdepth.JPG

    It can move around so make sure it stays, for 4 screw holes I wasn't terribly worried. Here's a shot of the neck.

    neck.JPG

    Not show here, I also installed the truss rod cover using same procedure as the tuning machine set screws.
     
    Matt Liebenau likes this.
  11. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    For the body I chose a G4. Poplar as it'll be getting full paint. MM route in the sweet spot and one tone one volume. The rest of the routing was for my chosen components. I chose to get the contoured heel option, make sure you get the right screws for this or shorten the two front screws.. they'll remind you in the docs.. on the website..etc..

    Here's the one oops, I purchased a square jack plate which doesn't fit well on this body. I might try and reshape it to fit the contours.. if that doesn't work well I'll just pick up a football style.
    oops.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
    Matt Liebenau likes this.
  12. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Taking my time, and including the time I spent cleaning up my workbench and making a nice place to work. About 45 minutes and it's pretty much assembled. Ignore the broken string, I had a cheap set of dunlop strings and while tuning the D string broke at the ferrule... The good news is that is plays, the setup was close enough for to test and make sure things line up, screw holes in the right places..etc.
    : bass.JPG
     
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  13. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Next installment I'll be:
    1. Shielding the control cavity
    2. Soldering ground to bridge
    3. Mounting strap holders
    4. Disassembling for paint
    5. .. probably other small details I'm not thinking of.
    If I'm missing anything, feel free to clue me in.

    My wife is currently trying out various paints that will provide the right look... that step may take time... possibly months.
     
  14. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Soldered bridge ground to bridge. First I marked the spot and used a small wire wheel to clean and roughen the surface. This bridge is a pretty heavy chunk of brass, so I used a small pencil torch and plenty of flux to make a good solid connection.
    bridge.JPG

    Used super shield nickel shielding spray paint, gave the cavity and back of the cover 3 coats. I'll check conductivity after it's fully dried.
    SDC11306.JPG

    I needed to make a cardboard template that my wife could use to see where the components will do and see how far fretboard extends over the body. Hopefully this helps with her art process. To get good location for the bridge, I cut down the tip of 2 horseshoe nails (everyone has those around right?). I sanded them down so the were just snug in the bridge holes.. figured the square shape would do less damage to the hole vs. something round:
    nails.JPG nailsinbody.JPG
    Pressed some cardboard over the pins, use pen to make location of the controls and used a long thin nail to mark holes for the neck. After that traced outline, cut out, holes for controls.... and voila
    template.JPG

    Last thing I did was disassemble, bagged/boxes parts. Once the shielding paint is fully dried and I'm satisfied with that I'll be boxing it up and getting it into the queue..

    Now begins more waiting.. can't hurry art.
     
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  15. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Just checked the shielding from multiple locations, both the cavity and cover. Lowest setting on my meter (2K) reports 0.000 ohms. I think 3 coats was sufficient.

    Only other item left is the football style jack plate, I think I don't need to detail that... (edit: got it, needed to be bent a bit 'flatter' to fit properly, couple layer of shop rag and gentle vise'ing fixed that).

    EDIT: Used a scrap of hickory to make a 'dummy neck' I can bolt to the body as a 'holder', it made sanding much easier have the body steady in a vise with full access.

    Back to waiting for paint.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
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  16. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    After much soul searching and considering various ideas. We're going to do what amounts to decoupage. We considered various media (oil, gouache, water color..) and came to the conclusion that the best way to carry this out was that my wife would do the art on paper and we'll glue that to the bass body. I'll put on a few light coats of poly to protect it, and done. For my part I've finished with a semi-gloss black base coat. Waiting for art now...
     
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  17. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    As my wife has been working on a body of work, and not selling much.. figured I'd better pay her for the art work like any other customer... $1000 later:
    untrimmed_body.png

    Here's closeups of the turtle and jellyfish 'characters'..... could use names.. suggestions appreciated.
    turtle.png jellyfish.png
     
  18. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    And here's the body, artwork attached... trimmed and re-fit all the bits.. The art has several coats of UV protectant clear, she's going to put some art wax over the art as a final coat(s). Pretty much getting the same treatment as regular paintings.

    That base paint is rattle can semi-gloss black, lots and lot of coats. Final coat unsanded, it turned out good enough I'm mostly concerned about protecting the wood and I think that's been achieved.

    Might be able to assemble this evening, perhaps even setup and try it out.

    trimmed_body.png
     
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  19. braindead0

    braindead0

    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Note for future reference.. Surface mounted bridge screw holes were a bit hard to locate using this finishing method. All of the other openings were easy to spot. The paper expanded a bit during gluing, even the control holes were easy to spot by looking at an angle. To locate the bridge holes I attached the neck, set the bridge where it should be based on scale length and used straight pins to find the holes. Any misses will to unnoticed under the bridge.

    Which just gave me a silly thought, should have asked her to draw a little troll...under the bridge...nyuk nyuk..
     
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  20. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Really nice work... Please pass on to her that my daughter is incredibly impressed with her skills... She's 10 and a pretty formidable artist in her own right...:D:laugh:
     
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